Last week Martin flew to Uganda to represent the Amalthea Trust at the very first National Biomedical Engineering Conference to be held in the country. That this was being held at all is an indication of just how far things have come in the 8 years that we have been working in Uganda, and we were invited in recognition of our role in helping to build the country’s capacity in this essential and often overlooked field.
Every key player was represented there, including THET, ECUREI, Makerere, Kyambogo, Mountains of the Moon and Mbarara Universities, the American International Health Alliance, the Maternal and Newborn Hub, and the Ugandan Ministry of Health to name but a few. The guest of honour was Adriana Velazquez Berumen, the WHO focal point for BME, who had flown out specially for the second day to give her own presentation.
There were four themes to the conference: medical equipment management and donations; capacity building and health worker’s experience; research and development/innovation; and BME professional bodies, regulation and policies.
I gave a presentation on the work of the Trust in Uganda under the second theme which was generally well received, and chaired one of the outbreak sessions on key lessons and future improvement plans for capacity building in Uganda.
The key outputs were really to try and raise the profile of BME in the country, to take stock of what has taken place so far, and acquaint everyone with what everyone else is doing, and as a snapshot of all the various efforts going on across the country it was both useful and interesting for everyone concerned.
For the Trust it allowed us to spread the word of what we are currently doing and plan to do, and was a valuable networking opportunity. The conference was the brainchild of Robert Ssekitoleko, and was on the whole both well organised and well attended, and succeeded in its goal of raising the profile of BME in the country somewhat, getting TV coverage on the Ugandan news on the Monday and Tuesday evenings.
The President himself even sent a speech that was read out by Engineer Sam Wanda, the grandfather of Biomedical Engineering in Uganda.